Scandia’s Haunt in Ontario, California, is one of those attractions you drive by and think, that’s cute – they make their own haunted house at the mini golf place. In fact, we were guilty of doing that for years as we zigged and zagged all over Southern California covering Halloween events and haunted attractions from San Diego to Los Angeles and beyond.
Finally, after the team at Scandia asked that we stop by and check their haunt out, we slugged it into our schedule and made it happen. To be honest, our expectations were pretty low. After all, Scandia is a chain of miniature golf/family entertainment centers; how much effort would they really put into a temporary haunted house? To our absolute surprise and delight, Scandia Ontario and its team of haunters really get into it, and absolutely pour their heart and souls into returning year after year to put on a tremendous show for everyone who stops by.
In 2015, we found Scandia’s Haunt to be made up of three components – a dark maze called “Blackout”, a scare zone, and the main event – a haunted house called “The Wuss Maker”.
We didn’t get any pictures or video inside the Blackout attraction because, well… dark. However, we found it to be really well done (we’ve been in several dark mazes in recent years that aren’t impressive at all or just plain suck), with several nasty surprises waiting for terrified guests as they feel their way blindly. A great feature that Blackout had was a large flat screen mounted to the exterior facade that guests could gather and watch; on the screen, was a live feed of people inside the maze getting the crap scared out of them. I love that kind of thing, and could watch that all night! Good stuff, and a great gag to implement for everyone to get in on – perfect for screams and laughs.
By the time we got to Scandia, it was the end of the night, so their scare zone was pretty much shut down for the night. That said, there were a lot of monsters that stuck around, knowing we were shooting. There were several sliders, and everyone we encountered roaming around outside of the two mazes was very energetic and seemed totally into it.
Scandia’s signature attraction, The Wuss Maker, is a traditional walk-through haunted house that features multiple scenes connected by narrow, dark, disorienting hallways. The maze itself doesn’t have a singular story; instead, it’s what we refer to as “haunt stew” – a bit of everything thrown together – from Freddy Krueger to killer clowns. Typically, we like haunts to be a little more sophisticated when it comes to content, theme, and story. However, what Scanda does have, is a team that appears to come back year after year to work with each other – and that feeling emanates throughout the maze, completely elevating it to something respectable and genuinely fun. You can tell this is a haunt family at Scandia – not seasonal workers that have simply hired on to make a few bucks and then move on. If you’re a haunter, you know what I mean. If you’re a veteran haunt fan, you know as well. When you visit a haunted attraction and the team truly is a family, the machine becomes so well-oiled that you can almost feel it in the air. And that’s what Scandia Ontario has. Kind of in limbo between Los Angeles and Orange counties, I would imagine that folks living in the Ontario area simply have created their own solid group, and they take huge pride in it and build on it each season. I love that, and really hand it to them – we honestly didn’t think we’d find that type of core team at a relatively generic family entertainment center.
A favorite aspect of The Wuss Maker is a mirror maze smack in the middle of the walk-through. Making matters worse, sinister clowns populate the maze, menacing guests and screaming directions – directions that no doubt, keep people going in circles for as long as possible. Good stuff!
We do get the impression that The Wuss Maker doesn’t necessarily change much from year to year; maybe an occasional scene gets changed up once in a while – but the maze definitely feels “lived in”. The saving grace is the talent, which is abundant throughout the walk-through. Everyone is incredibly energetic, and so the surroundings become secondary to the talent and kind of melt away in the darkness.
A huge thank you to everyone at Scandia for having TPA out for a night of fun. Below, you will find a short video with clips from The Wuss Maker; it’s not the full maze, as requested by Scandia management.
When you’re making the rounds during Halloween 2016, don’t forget Scandia Ontario – it’s hard to miss with its roller coaster looming in the darkness as fog billows from its haunt across the lanes of the 15 Freeway! This is a great haunt team that truly works it hard every night – definitely worth your time and attention!
- Rick West